Why a Catholic lobby day?
If the Minnesota Catholic bishops’ goal in a separate lobbying day for Catholics is to encourage Catholic lobbying as Jason Adkins, MCC executive director, says (“Catholics at the Capitol aims to inspire public policy participation,” Jan. 12), they could double down in their annual effort to get Catholics to lobby with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) in its Day on the Hill. The MCC is still a member of the JRLC, along with Protestant Christians, Jews, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists — members of the Minnesota Council of Churches. The next JRLC Day on the Hill is Feb. 23, and the MCC Catholics at the Capitol is March 9, two weeks later. Chances are Catholics will not attend both.
Why lobby separately as Catholics? Is it a change in agenda? The JRLC agenda concentrates on social justice. Is the MCC shifting emphasis from the Church’s teaching on the “preferential option for the poor” to issues of personal ethics — sex, marriage, child-bearing and end-of-life choices?
As U.S. citizens, bishops and lay Catholics have an ethical consideration in lobbying for laws restricting freedom of personal choice. In the U.S., people are free to live by their own religious and ethical codes unless there are good public, evidence-based reasons for restricting their freedom. We believe personal freedom is in the common good. Since “our Church teaches” is not a public reason, lobbyists need evidence for their assertions that laws are required to prevent harm to others. This is a serious matter.
Catholics can persuade others of our values by living according to Catholic teaching ourselves. No lobbying required. But asking lawmakers to provide justice for all citizens? That is exactly what lobbying should be about. And there is no better way for Catholics to do it than with other people of faith in the JRLC.
St. Albert the Great, Minneapolis
Cardinal Newman Society’s ‘honor roll’
Re: “Speaker: Catholic schools must cultivate identity to keep students in the faith,” Jan. 26 — I attended this event, but was disappointed in that it seemed more like a marketing event for the three schools (Providence Academy in Plymouth, Chesterton Academy in Edina and St. Agnes School in St. Paul) and the Cardinal Newman Society itself.
While nothing that Dr. Jamie Arthur said was controversial per se, implicit in the discussion was the notion that if a school is not on the Society’s “honor roll,” it’s lacking. As the article notes, only schools that apply are even considered. I had never heard of the Cardinal Newman Society prior to this event, so it’s unclear to me why its “Honor Roll” carries significance.
It also left an uneasy feeling with me that a bishop of our archdiocese was at an event that held these three schools up implicitly at the expense of the dozen or so other archdiocesan high schools. One would think if our own high schools weren’t “Catholic enough” that our local bishops would work to change that.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens responds: Parents, students and their families in our archdiocese are blessed to have many Catholic high schools from which to choose. We have many good organizations and foundations offering direct help to our Catholic schools, but very few of these organizations work with every Catholic school in the archdiocese. The scope of each organization is necessarily limited. Three of our schools have gone through the hard work of applying to be on the Cardinal Newman Society’s Honor Roll and received this distinguished honor. It is an impressive honor that supports the reason we are in the work of Catholic education: to help our young people develop and strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ as they grow in knowledge of their world and their faith, and experience the seamless integration of both spiritual and human learning. My support of these schools at this event does not mean that I don’t support or recommend our other Catholic high schools. Every school has many occasions to celebrate its commitment to excellence, and whenever possible, the archbishop or I try to be present to share in the joy of these achievements. I work closely with the archdiocese’s Office for the Mission of Catholic Education to make sure students receive a quality, Catholic education at all of our Catholic schools and in our religious education programs.
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